We know that brewing was an established practice as early as 4300 BC, from which time Sumerian cuneiform tablets detailing beer making have been found. The sumerians brewed beer from barley and offered it to their gods and kings as sacrifice.

Beer also played an important part of Egyptian life and was commonly used as medication. Many social customs, for example courtship rituals, revolved around beer.

In ancient Babylon there existed around 20 different varieties of beer and the quality was regulated by a royal decree (the Code of Hammurabi). The Babylonians exported beer to areas as far as 1000 kilometers away and used beer as kind of currency.

But the secrets of beer brewing seems to have been discovered independently in other parts of the world as well, especially in areas where grapes didn't grow well and wine production was impossible. In Africa millet, maize and cassava was used, in North America persimmon, in South America corn, sweet potatoes, and in Asia rice, sorghum and wheat. The egyptians made their beer strictly from barley, which is weel suited for beer brewing, but not for baking due to its low gluten content. This leads us to believe they may have been grown exclusively for brewing purposes.

The first European beer seems to have been made around 1000 BC at Geno Lleida in Catalan Spain. Beer brewing in Germany, started around 200 years later. We also know that the Chinese produced a beer called 'kiu' by the year 23 BC.

In the 11th century hops was introduced in the brewing process, providing more flavour and bitterness in the finished brew.

By the 13th century , beer making had grown to become an important industry in Austria, Germany and England. Many monasteries began brewing their own beer, using scientific methods. This developed into a very lucrative side business for many cloisters and special taprooms where they could sell their beer were established. Several beers (for example Chimay is still brewed by monks.

During Henry VIII's reign in England during the 1530-ies, the monasteries in Britain were dissolved. Instead, the control over the beer passed to the farmers and landed gentry, who established brewhouses to produce beer for their farmworkers and staff. These brewhouses then developed into full-blown breweries.

Beer trade became more important, and commercial brewing grew significantly over the next centuries. British brewhouses produced mostly ale, while their German counterparts concentrated on lager, which was possible due to the low temperatures in the Alp region (the process of bottom-fermentation requires temperatures of 5-10 degrees Celsius).

In 1516, the German Duke Vilhelm IV of Bavaria enacted the Reinhetsgebot (purity law), which declared that only hops, barley and water could be used for brewing beer, a law which is till enforced to this day.

Beer brewing seems to have been a high priority to the European immigrants who started new lives in North America. There is a story of how the passengers on the Mayflower were forced ashore earlier than expected because the beer supply was running low. Famous men like William Penn, Samuel Adams, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were in fact also brewers.

In 1842 the first mass-produced German lager (made possible by modern refrigeration equipment) was brewed by Josef Groll and Johann Eisner in Plzen, a beer which became known as Pils or Pilsner. Immigrants from Bavaria brought with them the new methods to America, where the lager became popular and began to outsell ale by the turn of the century.

Only 160 out of (2300) American breweries survived the 13 years of prohibition. A great deal of brewing expertise and tradition was lost during these years and some experts argue that this is why the american lager, while popular (over 97% of the beer sold in the USA is pale lager), is so tasteless and thin compared to European brews.

Anheuser-Busch was founded in 1852 in St. Louis by George Schneider and is today the world's largest brewery, despite being treatened with financial troubles early on. In 1876 Budweiser was introduced (and many say this was a Bad Thing).

However, European breweries are still doing good, and the microbrewery trend has revived some of the beer culture in the US. In 1971 the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) started in Britain in order to save the ale breweries, and similar organizations have been established throughout Europe.

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